‘Ears’ for rover Perseverance’s exploration of Mars —


For 20 years, Roger Wiens has constructed devices to present people eyes and a nostril on Mars — and now he is serving to add ears as effectively.

Wiens, a professor of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences within the Faculty of Science at Purdue College, and an professional in Mars robotics know-how, led the group that constructed SuperCam, a tool on the Perseverance Mars rover that features a laser for zapping rocks in addition to the microphone that introduced the primary recordings of Mars to Earth.

“Once I was at Los Alamos Nationwide Laboratory, I began wanting round to see if there have been any Division of Power applied sciences that we’d have the ability to harness and use for planetary science, and that is the place Curiosity’s ChemCam, which later developed into Perseverance’s SuperCam, got here from,” Wiens mentioned.

SuperCam incorporates a know-how that makes use of a pulsed laser beam to pulverize tiny bits of rock samples as much as 30 toes away. The instrument collects the sunshine from the transient flash emitted within the course of, permitting scientists to investigate rocks that its arm cannot attain and to “see” and analyze samples even by means of Mars mud that coats the rocks.

In incorporating the microphone into SuperCam, Wiens and his collaborators have opened up alternatives for a variety of science and analysis on the Martian floor that was by no means attainable earlier than, together with serving to analyze rock and recording sounds.

“Once we zap these rocks, we are able to discover out extra about their hardness and composition by listening to the change in sound as plenty of laser photographs get fired into the rock in the identical spots,” Wiens mentioned. “We will hear the helicopter Ingenuity, which is one thing we did not count on to have the ability to hear. We will hear the wind and measure the velocity and route, in addition to measure the scale and velocity of mud devils. We will take heed to the rover’s personal sounds and monitor well being and security the identical means you gauge your automobile’s well-being by listening to the motor. Issues sound totally different on Earth as a result of the rover’s ears are formed totally different from ours and the ambiance is so totally different, however we’re making recordings and studying issues each different day.”

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